Vancouver-Hope-Lillooet-Pemberton-Vancouver Loop – 602 km in a weekend

A number of months ago, I heard Rick Cluff, the CBC Radio Early Edition host in Vancouver, interviewing someone (it may have even been Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association (VEVA) President, Bruce Stout) about electric vehicles when he remarked (something along the lines of): “I just want to know, can I make it to Hope in one of these?”

While the short is answer is yes of course, there are lots of charging stations along the ~150 km stretch between Vancouver and Hope, I took that question as a challenge to do it in a single charge with the world’s bestselling electric car, a Nissan LEAF.

I knew that even with a new LEAF, such as mine, I would need to make the attempt under optimal conditions, as the distance is pushing the upper limits of its range. I also needed to wait for the winter (when I acquired my car, and think I heard the interview) to turn to spring/summer when temperatures are warmer, which positively impacts range.

Well, Saturday July 11, 2015 was finally the day. I actually carved out the whole weekend to do my Vancouver-Hope attempt, as well as a southern interior loop I’ve been wanting to do for awhile: Vancouver-Hope-Lillooet-Pemberton-Vancouver.

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km 0 – home

My boyfriend kept joking with me as I talked about the Hope challenge that I was going to do it by going 90 km/h on the highway to make it (the speed limit is variable, but 100 or 110 km/hr in the Fraser Valley). I was determined to try it keeping up with traffic, defined as going the speed limit (+/- 5 km/h, depending on who you’re trying to pass, etc).

I am pleased to report that I did it! Going the speed limit on Saturday morning, I made it to one of the Hope public charging stations with about 5% battery remaining, after 149.5 km (of which about 146 was highway). I then decided to do a few laps around Hope to reach a new personal maximum for range on a single charge: 156.6 km. The turtle appeared (along with a message along the lines of “motor power limited” which I certainly felt), and I made my way back to the charger.

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East Vancouver (1st and Renfrew area) to downtown Hope in one charge: 149.5km.
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A few extra laps around Hope and this is my new record for longest distance on a single charge. (Turtle also shown.)
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Charging in Hope.

I enjoyed lunch and some computer work at the Blue Moose Cafe directly across the street.

A few hours later, my car was 100% charged, and I continued on my way up the Fraser Canyon to Boston Bar. I charged at the conveniently located station at Canyon Lanes for about an hour.

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One of the many tunnels that are a signature feature of the Fraser Canyon.
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Fraser Canyon
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Charging in Boston Bar.

I then continued to Lytton. I was excited to see Lytton, Canada’s hotspot, as I had driven past the community many times on my way to/from Prince George (where I grew up), but had never been to the community. I plugged in for about 45 minutes at the one (publicly posted) charger in town at the Rest Inn. I chatted with some curious guests and workers there who wanted to know all about the car, how far it can go, how fast (fast!), what it looks like under the hood, etc. I really enjoy chatting with interested folks about EVs. I also took a few minutes to check out downtown Lytton, which was absolutely charming!

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Charging in Lytton (and exhibiting great parking).

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Sears and Ice Cream all in one!

From Lytton, I headed to another new community for me: Lillooet. I found Lillooet to be situated at a stunning confluence of coastal and interior/desert ecosystems, with interesting characteristics of both. I plugged in at the Retasket Lodge for a few hours (very friendly people there) and was glad I had my bike in the back of the car, as it was a few kilometers into town for dinner. After dinner and charging was finished, I departed for the BC Hydro Seton Creek Campground, a free place to camp about 6 km west of Lillooet.

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Charging in Lillooet.
Charging in Lillooet.

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Seton Reservoir system (BC Hydro). BC Hydro should have some charging stations here!

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In the morning I explored the Naxwit Picnic area as well as the Seton Lake Lookout, which was stunning.

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Seton Lake
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Seton Lake Lookout

From there, it was along the Duffey Lake Road to Pemberton. The distance from the Lillooet charger to Pemberton charger was over 100 km (normally a distance that doesn’t make me sweat), but I also knew it was very hilly. When I used up 20% of my charge in the first 13 km of the trip, I started to wonder whether I was going to make it. The grades on the road were stunning (even for this BC native); there were frequent signs indicating 11, 13, 15% grades. Going up those is hard on the LEAF (or any other vehicle for that matter), but going down is lots of fun! In the end, the route was just fine, I regenerated about 16% descending from Joffre Lakes toward Pemberton, and arrived with 46% charge remaining after 103 km! The drive itself was also nothing short of spectacular. I’ve been partway along the Duffey Lake Rd a number of times for backcountry ski trips, but had never done the whole stretch to Lillooet. If you haven’t done it, I would highly recommend it – this is one example of where our ‘beautiful British Columbia’ license plate comes from.

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This was leaving Lillooet. Rugged, and stunningly beautiful, indeed.
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Battery % vs km driven = yikes!

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Duffey Lake

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Once I reached Pemberton, I thought for a moment about going for (another) new range record for myself, as I could have probably easily exceeded 156.6 km. However, I really wanted to check in at the Pemberton charging station (the last check in was a year ago, and a failed attempt, so I wanted to show other drivers and the station operators that it was indeed being used and functional) and I wanted to eat. I had brunch at Mile One, and departed with 100% charge and a new ‘Guess O Meter’ (GOM) record of 198 km! (So close to 200, but not quite!) The rest of the route was very familiar territory, as we go up the Sea-to-Sky often to enjoy the great outdoors.

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Pemberton Community Centre Charging Station
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Charging in Pemberton (much needed clouds and rain present!)
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New guess-o-meter (GOM) record.

I made two quick stops at chargers along the highway by Whistler, just to check them out for future reference. From there, it was onward to Squamish, and a very fast quick charge session (10 minutes, 40% increase in charge).

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Fast charger in Squamish.

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Sea to Sky

I arrived home Sunday afternoon, happy with my weekend pursuits and filled with pride for the beauty of British Columbia. I’m so lucky to call this place home.

Total = 602 km.

Van-Hope-Lillooet-Pemberton-Van Loop July 2015

Charging Location Distance from previous stop SOC on arrival SOC on departure
 
Vancouver 100%
Hope 149.5 km (then 156.6. km) 5% (then <1%) 100%
Boston Bar 66.6 km 45% 73%
Lytton 45.8 km 40% 62%
Lillooet 65 km 22% 100%
Pemberton 103 km 46% 100%
Squamish 93 km 42% 83%
Vancouver 72 km 28%

SOC = state of charge

Edit: my parents have reminded me that apparently I have done the Duffey Lake Road before, with them, as a kid… I guess it wasn’t as memorable as with an EV!

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